Learning CBD terminology is like learning a new language. Some words — such as endocannabinoid and tetrahydrocannabinol — are downright tricky to pronounce, while others seem to lack a clear definition. It’s overwhelming, especially if you’re new to CBD and are trying to navigate all of the products available.
If you’ve done any research online, you’ve probably come across terms like “full spectrum”, “broad spectrum”, and “isolate”. Or perhaps you’ve seen these words on the labels of the CBD products you’ve already tried. But do you really know what full-spectrum CBD is, or how it compares to the other types? If not, keep on reading. We’re going to explain the differences, so you can be more fluent and make better decisions about CBD.
The differences between isolate, full-spectrum, and broad-spectrum products have a lot to do with how CBD is extracted from the hemp plant:
Isolate products are highly-processed and potent, and in some cases, are made up of 99% pure CBD. They contain almost no other components of the hemp plant — these are removed during extraction — and therefore have no synergistic benefits (more on this later).
Full-spectrum CBD products contain a variety of plant-based compounds, such as other cannabinoids (including less than 0.3% THC), terpenes, and phytonutrients. Compared to CBD isolates, full-spectrum products are less processed in order to protect the integrity of these elements.
Remember to read product labels to find out what’s in your tinctures, balms, and capsules; trusted CBD brands will list all ingredients and amounts so you can know exactly what you’re consuming. Full-spectrum CBD products contain less than 0.3% THC, so you won’t experience any psychotoxic effects.
Broad-spectrum and full-spectrum products are very similar, but there is one crucial difference: broad-spectrum CBD products have gone through an additional phase of processing to remove THC. These products fall somewhere between isolates and full-spectrum.
By now, you’re probably wondering if these different CBD product types will yield different results. What can you expect when using CBD isolate vs. full-spectrum and broad-spectrum options?
According to research, full-spectrum products can amplify CBD’s positive impacts due to what’s known as the “entourage effect”. In short, the theory is that the sum of cannabinoids in a CBD product may be greater than its individual parts — it suggests that, by interacting with other compounds and terpenes, CBD may have a greater ability to contribute to our wellbeing.
Since the entourage effect is still being studied, we can’t say for sure whether one type of CBD product is better than another. Try experimenting with different spectrums and amounts — remembering to start low and go slow — to find out what works best for you and your lifestyle.
There’s a time and place for everything — including full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and CBD isolate products. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you decide which ones you want to try:
- Pros: Great for those interested in odorless and flavorless applications. Users can also take comfort in the fact that isolate products contain no THC.
- Cons: Isolate products contain little-to-no traces of other hemp-based compounds, which could mean you’re missing out on some unique CBD benefits.
- Pros: These products contain multiple cannabinoids, terpenes, and phytonutrients. According to the entourage effect, this may improve your experience and results.
- Cons: Because they’re less processed than isolates, full-spectrum products may have grassy or earthy flavor profiles, which some people might not enjoy. These products also contain THC, so you’ll need to exert extra caution when choosing which brands to test — each of the products in our collection contain 0.3% THC or less.
- Pros: This is the go-to choice if you prefer less-processed products, but want THC removed. Broad-spectrum CBD products may also have an entourage effect, since other cannabinoids, terpenes, and nutrients remain after extraction.
- Cons: Like full-spectrum CBD products, broad-spectrum may also have a grassy or earthy flavor. Keep this in mind if you plan on adding CBD into your daily wellness routine.
With the terminology out of the way, what CBD qualities are you most drawn to? Maybe you love the strength and flavorless profile of CBD isolates, or maybe you enjoy the plant-powered synergy of full-spectrum options. Every CBD form and application is unique and everyone will have a different preference. Browse our collection of ingestibles and topicals — made with ingredients to help you live better, every day — to find one that seamlessly fits into your lifestyle.
Not intended as medical advice. Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition. If you have specific healthcare concerns or questions about the products discussed, please contact your licensed healthcare professional for advice.
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